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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Education and Teaching




“The education that I propose includes all that is proper for a man and it is one in which all men who are born into this world should share ... Our first wish is that all men be educated fully to full humanity, not any one individual, not a few, nor even many, but all men together and singly, young and old, rich and poor, of high and lowly birth, men and women - in a word, all those whose fate it is to be born human beings, so that at last the whole of the human race become educated, men of all ages, all conditions, both sexes, and all nations.” John Amos Comenius, 1657



Editor's 1-Minute Essay: Education

Mortimer Adler's Syntopicon Essay: Education

Mortimer Adler: The Paideia Proposal

Mortimer Adler: On the Education of the Founding Fathers

James Walsh: Education of the Founding Fathers of the Republic

Editor's Essay: How did the ancient Greeks, a religious people, manage, almost single-handedly, to create what we call philosophy? Why is it that the beginnings of so many important modern fields of enquiry find their roots in the ancient Hellenic culture?

Cavalin, the ten-year old college student with an A+ average






Dr. Adler's Paideia Proposal chart


Acquisition of Organized Knowledge

by means of

Development of Intellectual Skills, the Skills of Learning

by means of

Enlarged Understanding of Ideas and Values

by means of


Didactic Instruction, Lectures and Textbooks

in the subject areas of

Coaching, Exercises, and Supervised Practice

in the operations of

Socratic Questioning and Active Participation

in the

Areas, Operations, & Activities

Language, Literature, and The Fine Arts

Mathematics and Natural Science

History, Geography and Social Studies

Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening

Calculating, Problem Solving, Observing, Measuring, Estimating

Exercising Critical Judgment

Discussion of Books (not textbooks) and Other Works of Art; Involvement in Artistic, Activities; e.g., Music, Drama, Visual Arts

Dr. Mortimer Adler: The Paideia Proposal: "...the error is to suppose that there is only one kind of teaching and one kind of learning, the kind that consists in the teacher lecturing, or telling... That's the least important kind of learning and teaching. There are two much more important kinds of learning and teaching, and all three must be in basic schooling, from kindergarten through the twelfth grade." 


Federico Faggin, Silicon: ““I was born into a new life every time a mental structure made of prejudices, obsolete teachings, and uncritically accepted beliefs was shattered and I came out as if freed from prison. I was born to a new life every time my mind, observing from a new point of view, expanded to broader and new understandings. Above all, I was born to a new life when I stopped rationalizing and began listened to my intuition, opening myself to the mystery of my own consciousness... I had received a traditional Catholic education that filled me with dogmatic answers to questions I didn’t yet have the maturity to ask. Exactly the opposite of wise teachings of ancient philosophers like Plutarch, who said: The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” Editor’s note: Inventor of the first computer microchip, Dr. Faggin went on to pioneer the new science of consciousness, the primary reality, not matter. And if the “the One”, as he uses the term, that is, Universal Consciousness, becomes singular pervasive reality, then it, in its essence, will display the fundamental characteristics of consciousness: meaning, significance, awareness, qualia, comprehension, feeling, free will, intuition, discovery  – none of which fits well with, is altogether antithetical to, the presumptuous and abusive filling young minds with dogmatic answers to questions that have not been asked.

Albert Einstein: "It is easier to break an atom than a prejudice."

John Wheeler: "Einstein told me, If you would learn, teach!"

Conversation between Sir Edmund Hillary and Urkien Sherpa, Schoolhouse in the Clouds: “Tell us, if there were one thing we could do for your village, what would it be?” “With all respect, Sahib, you have little to teach us in strength and toughness. And we don’t envy your restless spirits. Perhaps we are happier than you? But we would like our children to go to school. Of all the things you have, learning is the one we most desire for our children.”

Greg Mortenson: “It is my vision that all people of our planet will dedicate the next decade to achieve universal literacy and education for all children, especially for girls. Over 145 million children in the world remain deprived of education due to poverty, exploitation, slavery, religious extremism, and corrupt governments. May this book, Three Cups of Tea, be a catalyst to bring the gift of literacy to those deprived children who all deserve a chance to go to school.”

Three Cups of Tea, by Mortenson and Relin: (2003) 17 year-old Jahan, the first educated woman of the Braldu Valley, a graduate of Pakistan’s Korphe school, the first elementary school built by Mortenson in 1995: “Before I met you Dr. Greg, I had no idea what education was. But now I think it is like water. It is important for everything in life.” Mortenson asks her of her plans. She will tell him if he agrees not to laugh. He teases her with a threat that he might. “When I was a little sort of girl and I would see a gentleman or a lady with good, clean clothes I would run away and hide my face. But after I graduated from the Korphe School, I felt a big change in my life. I felt I was clear and clean and could go before anybody and discuss anything. And now that I am already in Skardu [to study], I feel that anything is possible. I don’t want to be just a health worker [anymore]. I want to be such a woman that I can start a hospital and be an executive, and look over all the health problems of all the women in the Braldu. I want to become a very famous woman of this area. I want to be a … ‘Superlady’ [she said with a grin].”

Three Cups of Tea, by Mortenson and Relin: Pakistan’s Brigadier General Bashir Baz to Greg Mortenson (2003): “You have to attack the source of your enemy’s strength. In America’s case, that’s not Osama or Saddam or anyone else. The enemy is ignorance. The only way to defeat it is to build relationships with these people, to draw them into the modern world with education and business. Otherwise the fight will go on forever.”

Three Cups of Tea, by Mortenson and Relin: Syed Mohammed Abbas Risvi, Supreme Shia Council of Mullahs, Qom, Iran, speaking at the dedication of Greg Mortenson’s new elementary school in Kuardu, Pakistan, Friday, September 14, 2001: “It is by fate that Allah the Almighty has brought us together in this hour. Today is a day that you children will remember forever… Today, from the darkness of illiteracy, the light of education shines bright. We share in the sorrow as people weep and suffer in America today as we inaugurate this school. Those who have committed this evil act against the innocent, the women and children, to create thousands of widows and orphans do not do so in the name of Islam. By the grace of Allah the Almighty, may justice be served upon them. For this tragedy, I humbly ask Mr. George and Dr. Greg Sahib for their forgiveness. All of you, my brethren: Protect and embrace these two American brothers in our midst. Let no harm come to them. Share all you have to make their mission successful. These two Christian men have come halfway around the world to show our Muslim children the light of education. Why have we not been able to bring education to our children on our own? Fathers and parents, I implore you to dedicate your full effort and commitment to see that all your children are educated. Otherwise, they will merely graze like sheep in the field, at the mercy of nature and the world changing so terrifyingly around us. I request America to look into our hearts and see that the great majority of us are not terrorists, but good and simple people. Our land is stricken with poverty because we are without education. But today, another candle of knowledge has been lit. In the name of Allah the Almighty, may it light our way out of the darkness we find ourselves in.” (Mortenson: “It was an incredible speech. And by the time Syed Abbas had finished he had the entire crowd in tears.”)

Thomas Jefferson: "Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of the body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

Henry Brooks Adams: "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."

Confucious: "If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself."

Albert Einstein: "The difference between what the most and the least learned people know is inexpressibly trivial in relation to that which is unknown."

Ralph Waldo Emerson: "What is life but the angle of vision? A man is measured by the angle at which he looks at objects. What is life but what a man is thinking of all day? This is his fate and his employer. Knowing is the measure of the man. By how much we know, so we are... Great men are they who see that spiritual thought is stronger than any material force, that thoughts rule the world."

Betrand Russell: "Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth -- more than ruin -- more even than death... Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man."

Alfred Whitney: "Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education."

Albert Einstein: "It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty… The aim (of education) must be the training of independently acting and thinking individuals who, however, can see in the service to the community their highest life achievement."

Albert Einstein: "Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs… One should guard against preaching to young people success in the customary form as the main aim in life. The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its result, and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community."

Interview of Mortimer J. Adler with Max Weismann: "Suppose there were a college or university in which the faculty was thus composed: Herodotus and Thucydides taught the history of Greece, and Gibbon lectured on the fall of Rome. Plato and St. Thomas gave a course in metaphysics together; Fracis Bacon and John Stuart Mill discussed the logic of science; Aristotle, Spinoza, and Immanuel Kant shared the platform on moral problems; Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke talked about politics... You could take a series of courses in mathematics from Euclid, Descartes, Riemann, and Cantor, with Bertrand Russell and A.N. Whitehead added at the end. You could listen to St. Augustine, Aquinas and William James talk about the nature of man and the human mind, with perhaps Jacques Maritain to comment on the lectures... In economics, the lectures were by Adam Smith, Ricardo, Karl Marx, and Marshall. Boas discussed the human race and its races, Thorstein Veblen and John Dewey the economic and political problems of American democracy, and Lenin lectured on communism... There might even be lectures on art by Leonardo da Vinci, and a lecture on Leonardo by Freud. A much larger faculty than this is imaginable, but this will suffice... Would anyone want to go to any other university, if he could get into this one? There need be no limitation of numbers. The price of admission -- the only entrance requirement -- is the ability and willingness to read and discuss.This school exists for everybody who is willing and able to learn from first-rate teachers."

Aristotle: "The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living from the dead."

Abraham Lincoln: "A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started. He is going to sit where you are sitting and when you are gone, attend to those things which you think are important. You may adopt all the policies you please, but how they are carried out depends on him. He will assume control of your cities, states and nations. He is going to move in and take over your churches, schools, universities, and corporations. All your books are going to be judged, praised or condemned by him. The fate of humanity is in his hands."

Epictetus: "Only the educated are free."

Henry Peter: "Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave."

Benjamin Franklin: "If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."

Thomas Jefferson: "Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

Robert Maynard Hutchins: "A liberal education... frees a person from the prison-house of his class, race, time, place, background, family, and even his nation."

Edward Everett: "Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army."

James Madison: "Learned Institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people. They throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty & dangerous encroachments on the public liberty."

Charles Phillips, 1816: "Education is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate, no despotism can enslave. At home, a friend, abroad an introduction. In solitude, a solace, and in society, an ornament. It hastens vice, it guides virtue; it gives, at once, grace and government to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave, a reasoning savage."

Unknown: "If you can afford only one newspaper, read the opposition's."

Will Rogers: The problem is not so much one of ignorance but with "all the things we know that ain't so."

Mark Twain: "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them."

Malcolm S. Forbes: "Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one."

Burrhus Frederic Skinner: "Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten."

William Butler Yeats: "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

John Dewey: "Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself."

Will Durant: "Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance."

Confucius: "Hear and you forget; see and you remember; do and you understand."

Walter Raleigh: "In an examination those who do not wish to know ask questions of those who cannot tell."

Plutarch: "The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled."

Albert Einstein: "The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education."

Leonardo de Vinci: "Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master."

Martin Luther King, Jr.: "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically... Intelligence plus character -- that is the goal of true education."

William Glasser: The retention of information can be quantified as follows: "We remember 10% of what we read; 20% of what hear; 30% of what we see; 50% of what we see and hear; 70% of what is discussed with others; 80% of what we experience personally; 95% of what we teach to someone else."

Albert Einstein: "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken the joy in creative expression and knowledge."

Thomas Jefferson: "To give to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business; to enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts and accounts in writing; to improve, by reading, his morals and faculties; to understand his duties to his neighbors and country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either; to know his rights; to exercise with order and justice those he retains, to choose with discretion the fiduciary of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence, with candor and judgement; and in general, to observe with intelligence and faithfulness all the social relations under which he shall be placed."

Joseph Stalin, 1934: "Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed."

Socrates: "Learning adorns riches and softens poverty."

C. Bradley Thompson: "During his retirement years, [John Adams] was fond of saying that the War for Independence was a consequence of the American Revolution. The real revolution, he declared, had taken place in the minds and hearts of the colonists in the fifteen years prior to 1776. According to Adams, the American Revolution was first and foremost an intellectual revolution."

Diogenes: "The foundation of every state is the education of its youth."

Winston Churchill: "The first duty of a university is to teach wisdom, not a trade; character, not technicalities."

John A. Ciardi: ".. a university has no real existence and no real purpose except as it succeeds in putting you in touch, both as specialist and as humans, with those minds your human mind needs to include. The faculty, by its very existence, says implicitly: 'We have been aided by many people, and by many books, and by the arts, in our attempt to make ourselves some sort of storehouse of human experience. We are here to make available to you, as best we can, that experience."

Bertrand Russell: "We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought."

Plutarch: "The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited."

Thomas Szasz: "Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one's self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily; and why older persons, especially if vain or important, cannot learn at all."

Paul Zane Pilzer: "Despite a documented low correlation between money spent and improvement in the quantity and quality of public education, the reform of public education has focused almost exclusively on the financial issue."

Albert Shanker, past president of the American Federation of Teachers: "When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of schoolchildren."

Ronald Reagan: “Our leaders must remember that education doesn’t begin with some isolated bureaucrat in Washington. It doesn’t even begin with State or local officials. Education begins in the home, where it’s a parental right and responsibility. Both our public and our private schools exist to aid our families in the instruction of our children, and it’s time some people back in Washington stopped acting as if family wishes were only getting in the way.”

Father Flanagan: "I like to think of education as the organization of knowledge into human excellence."

G. K. Chesterton: "Education is implication. It is not the things you say which children respect; when you say things, they very commonly laugh and do the opposite. It is the things you assume that really sink into them. It is the things you forget even to teach that they learn."



Editor's last word: